Unusual Flanders

– Traveler;
– Photographer;
– Computer network specialist;
– Candidate of Biological Sciences.

Punched by the study of high-mountain ecosystems, travel photography and human behavior in extreme environmental conditions.

As they say: a small spool – yes roads. The story of this small country is so rich in different events that you can tell about hours. But the most important thing – the echoes of these events still remained captured in the appearance of Belgian cities, despite numerous conquest and destruction.

Actually, the very name of the country comes from the title of the tribe of Belgov of Celtic origin, who lived in this territory before our era. Later, the Legions of the Roman Empire got here. In the Middle Ages, these lands were included in the Burgundy Duchy and up to the first third of the nineteenth century were those under the rule of Spain, then France, then the Netherlands. In 1830, the revolution broke out, the country came out of the Netherlands kingdom and gained independence, becoming a neutral state led by King Leopold I.

Interestingly, the history of the formation of Belgium as an independent state is closely related to the Russian Empire. The future king of Belgium – Leopold I served since 1799 in the cavalry of the Russian army and successfully fought against Napoleon, having reached Paris in 1814. Thanks to the Great Princess, Catherine Pavlovna (sister of the Russian emperor Alexander I) Leopold I met his future wife Princess Charlotte, which contributed to the close coupling of England and Belgium. It was England, with the support of Russia, proposed Leopold I as the king of the newly educated state. In 1839, representatives of Russia, Great Britain, Austria, France, Prussia and Kingdom, the United Netherlands signed the so-called London Agreement, in accordance with which European powers recognized and guaranteed independence and neutral status of Belgium, and confirmed Luxembourg’s independence. Actually, this is the agreement and determined the main borders of modern Belgium.

So what is modern Belgium? If briefly, then – mini-Europe, as well as the birthplace of numerous varieties of beer and the famous Belgian chocolate. But anyone who gathered to visit this country and it knows it without me. Therefore, I will try to reveal only what usually remains behind the scenes.

Let’s start, of course, with Brugge. He is the "fabulous town", he is "Northern Venice" and he is one of the most visited places of this part of Europe. In all guidebooks looks like a huge city, although in reality Bruges is very small. It is easy to explore, just walking on foot. There are no dangerous areas here, and here it is hard to get lost. Little bridges and parks allow you to feel like on a picnic, and the medieval center really looks like. medieval.

Just try to avoid expensive chocolates and other purely tourist traps. You must enjoy this fabulous city – and for this you do not need to rush.

I will say as it is: local residents do not really like tourists. Too much here is our brother. Well, then it’s time to win back the hearts of the aborigines, for example, knowledge of Brugge’s story – this will be firmly allocated among the "peep". It is necessary to say how infussed questions like: "O! I remember this tower! It was built for the film "To Stand on the bottom in Brugge", however?"Despite the fact that the tower costs hundreds of years, and the film was filmed four years ago ..

So, the five-minute History of Brugge, which locals (not without humor, of course), are remembered:

1277 year. The first fleet arrived from the Italian geni and the harbor Brugge becomes the most important connection with the Mediterranean.
1302 Disassembly with the French. A whole regiment of French soldiers spread up with life … in a dream. Yeah if you are accustomed to wealth and peace – you must be smart.
1309 The first exchange opened in Brugge, where the Museum of Potato-Free. By the way, it was the Belgians who came up with this dish (I’m talking about potatoes). What and terribly proud. Do not try to ask Local in Brugge: "And where is McDonalds here?"
1480 Hans Memling – The largest Flemish painter of that time paints the temple of Saint Ursula. To date, Flemish artists are a kind of standard in realism for the rest of Europe.
1482 Maria Burgundskaya fell off the horse and died. She was buried in the church of our lady, where the sculpture of Madonna with the infant of the work of Michelangelo. I recommend to visit, by the way.
1500 Harbor in Brugge becomes useless due to the lack of communication with the sea. Several powerful storms brought the channel sand. The title of the main harbor of Flanders goes to Antwerp.
1600 and 1700, and 1800s. Bruges fell in a hibernation.
1892 A short romance of Belgian Georg Robinbach "Dead City of Brugge" (Bruges La Morte) with a dozen black and white photos of the city. In the book, the city is described as a gloomy and dark place. Aborigines, of course, did not feel happy, but tourists were drawn to the city in search of medieval romance.
1907 New Harbor was built in Brugge, closer to the sea. During World War I, the Germans tried here the first generation of their submarines here.
1975 Several hippies founded the first independent Hospitator in Brugge. Now independent travelers no longer stop.
2009 Film "Fucking on the bottom in Brugge" received a prize for the best scenario. Phrase from the movie "If I Grew Up On A Farm, and Was Retarded, Bruges Might Impress Me. But i Didn’t, So It Doesn’t "(if I lived on the farm and was just a moron – Bruges would impress me. But it is not so, not at all.) Allows today to consider Brugge with a non-visible city, which is interesting only for tourists.

– There are several cheap hostels in the city and even camping (which lives free Wi-Fi). But much more interesting to live in one of the private hotels overlooking the canal. For example, in Die SWAENE. Expensive, but so Gothichenko-atmospheric!

– Brugge himself is very small. Rent a bike until the rest of the tourists crowd on the squares and gondolas. By the way, it makes sense to ride a boat only in one case: if you are very tired and you want to relax slightly. You will not see anything new at the same time.

– Most museums and bars closed all Monday. It’s a shame however.

– Local symbol of the city – Bear. No one knows why. And, by the way, the word "Bear" is also used in the meaning "Everything is excellent". Try to pronounce "Bere" with an emphasis on the first syllable.

– In principle, it is clear why many continue to consider Brugge a dead city. There are no graffiti, skaters, good shop areas (goodbye, shopaholics), and even there are no music clubs in the center. But, on the other hand, maybe in this beauty?

– Do not believe the Swiss on chocolate. Belgians believe that true chocolate is exactly from them. In Bruges only 52 chocolateries. And in the chocolate museum you need to go.

– Yes, we must admit: public toilets in the city are specifically stinking. But think twice, gathering to make PII in nature. It will get you in 152 euros. What, by the way, makes Brugge the most expensive city in Flanders for those who want to persite "on the will". About 760 euros per liter.

– Not far from the center there is a tricky place Pandreitje. Even local times are surprised at the local labyrinth on the site of the former prison. In 2002, part of the labyrinth turned into a residential complex on hundreds of houses and 200 underground parking spaces. Streamed Rasian.

– Favorite tourist entertainment – Inspection of the panorama from the height of the 83-meter Belfry tower, where there are already 366 steps. Guides say that you can see the sea. I will say right away – the sea you will not see, and the pictures will not be the best: what can be removed through the grille?

Let’s go on. Some 25 minutes by train and you are already in Ghent. And if you are a hidden treasure hunter, then Ghent is exactly what you need. Small city for 300 bars and 50,000 students. Mountains of live music with free daily concerts, good second hand and almost calm natives. Why "almost"? – Clear from history.

629 year. Benedictine Monk Amand came from France to Gent to preach Christianity. But the natives threw it into the river. The monk, however, turned out to be stubborn and founded the abbey of St. Peter.
1100 Fabric and grain trade reaches unprecedented heights. Ships come from North Africa. If you compare the Gent of those days, for example, with London, then the latter is just a trifle.
1180 Rich Genta residents wanted too much independence, because of what Count Philip built a rather big castle. Not to disappear conquerors, and to look after their.

1500 Emperor Charles V was born in Ghent. URA Emperor!
1540 Dolbanny Charles! Local to know refused to pay too high tax, and Charles made them go through the streets in underwear and with a rope on the neck. The rich ride. And what? Don’t pay money! Nowadays a piece of rope from Ghent is considered good souvenir. Do not ask me: "Why?"
1800 Thank you Troy, the industrial boom has happened in Gent. Lyuben Bauens stole a spinning machine from the British (a very outstanding technology at the time) and sold it to Ghent. Spinning factories broke like mushrooms after rain.
1913 Ghent became medieval again. Local government decided to renovate and recreate part of ancient buildings, in order to attract more tourists on the occasion of the World Exhibition.
1963 In Ghent invited the crowd of the Turks to work in the textile industry. Nowadays, children and grandchildren of these workers make up the largest group of people in the city of non-Yellow Origin.
1969 Finally ended long boring years, when in the summer everyone preferred to dump to the sea. Started the first Gent Music Festival.
1999 Prohibited Entry Machines in the Historical Center. Ghent acquires a special tourist charm.

Facts and recommendations:

– Want to try local food? Then forget about Gent waffles – try Stoverij (meat stewed in beer) or uuflakke (pork in jelly with mustard and other goodies).

– Gent students – very active people. Somehow, in protest against raising prices for beer, captured a local castle. We sat there for about a day, throwing citizens with tomatoes who grabbed with them. Avenged them from there with the help of a fire team. For a similar reason, I did not rose to the BELFORT Tower: on the eve of the earliest students, protesting against the EU Ministeries, climbed up and, of course, rushed with tomatoes. The next day the tower was closed. To avoid.

– At the end of the street Langemunt is the square with the statue of Jacob van Arteveld. This is a local hero that looks at us from all the Gent postcards. That’s just, they say that finding a local who knows anything about this hero – almost unreal. However, okay: the main thing is that the Hero’s hand points in the direction of Dulle Griet pub, which serves delicious beer in the original flask-glass. Each gentan student considered his duty to strengthen this flask, as a result of which the babe holder introduced an interesting rule. The one who orders this beer must pass one of his bartender shoes. Barman will shove your shoes in the basket and moves under the ceiling. Until we pay and do not give the flask-glass. I tried: shoes, really take.

– Many buildings in the center of Ghent – a typical example of facadism. This is the name of the architectural solution, in which the building that is not suitable for further use is destroyed, leaving intact only the facade. Behind this facade, a new modern building is erected, often for the new goals intended. The view of the old house remains the same. But the content changes dramatically. A typical example – the building of the Marriot hotel, in which, by the way, I do not recommend sharing. Not because of the high prices for the numbers, in because the hotel’s leadership of the hotel has a whole seven euros per hour of the Internet (I spend so much in Moscow for a month!), though around full free networks.

– Heart of Turkish Gaanta – Sleepstraat Street with a noisy ringing of trams, cries of children and dismissed BMW. If you crave with the excellent Turkish pizza – you are definitely here.

– Yes, in Ghent, men are forbidden to walk with bare torso. Even in the hottest summer days. However, the law also applies to women.

Fishing on Flanders can not be missed by the city of Antwerp. Not because it is old and huge, but because Antwerp has a character. Forget about diamonds, chocolate and cathedral. Antwerp is fashion, design, musical parties and recording studios. Many consider Antwerp simply as an intermediate point between Brussels and Amsterdam, suitable for laundry laundry only. In vain. In fact, Antwerp is a hidden pearl of Europe to spend its precious time.

– Local special beer than amber color called "BOLLEKE KONINCK". Some believe that it is beer for old people, but sometimes old men just know what good beer means. Do not buy beer in the so-called "specialized stores": This is a wiring for tourists. Supermarkets have a large selection of various beer varieties at a significantly lower price.

Unusual Flanders

– Antwerp always build something. And if you do not build, then the construction is discussed. For example, last year all worried the construction of a large bridge in the north of the city. So it happened that there are no bridges – solid tunnels. However, there will be a bridge or not – it is still unknown, but the "big red cube", which will be a new urban museum, only build – and already consider the calling card of the city.

– Try to find the entrance to Vlaeykensgang – This is a well-disguised alley of the 16th century, where the poorest people lived. She looks like a street of Brugge.

– Antwerp’s freshest chip – the ability to go down to the dungeon of the channels (de Antwerpse Ruien). The medieval city was covered with a network of channels that were used as defensive structures. Later – as aquatic pathways and water supply systems. Over time, the channels were closed with stone vaults and now highways and boulevards are running on top. You have the opportunity to look at the historic center directly below. So to speak, look in the boost of the city. At the moment, almost two kilometers of dungeons are available, which are supposed to go along with an experienced digger. Hazard for health, practically no: you are given overalls and boots, and the channels are no longer sirsty. Unfortunately, all information is still presented only in the Dutch (well, a very fresh chip). Even the site has not yet transferred to English.

– In the mid-nineties of the Belgian rock, finally, came to the international scene. In Ghent and Brussels, there are good concert halls, but good groups live in Antwerp. The cult group of those years, of course, should be considered a group Deus. However, today there are many fresh and talented teams in the city. No other way as in the waters of Antwerp there is some kind of musical pheromone. Want to listen? Then look at the Mondial Bar. Good evening you are guaranteed. If there is no concert for the evening – Ask Barmen. He knows where to go.

– Want to beach? Then go to the pedestrian tunnel. Next – along the river (holding her right hand) and after 20 minutes you will get to St. Anne’s Beach. Earlier, old men were rested here who could not afford a trip to the sea beach. But now youth reopened this place. Hence a good view of the city, especially in the evening, when buildings are highlighted by spotlights. You can even try mussels in one of the beach houses. True, they say, the houses themselves are much more interesting middi. And the last – very expensive. Bathing in the river is prohibited, but there is an open pool.

– If you look at the Draakplaats Square, you will see the railway bridge and water towers for steam locomotives – a reminder of the old good days of public transport. When the horse was replaced by electric tram, the drivers of the new transport began to be called Wattman. Now Wattman is a small bar in the corner building area, in the style of AR.

– Antwerp Art is not limited to Rubens. For example, the famous modern painter Luke Tyumans lives and works here. I recommend to read about him in Wikipedia: there is an article and in Russian. On Pourbusstraat Street, there is a whole accumulation of art galleries, many of which are open.

– The river on Warenstraat Street is located a museum of Munka, which is a whole labyrinth of installation of contemporary art from the 1970s to the present day. It is here that the Belgian neo-conceptual artist Vim Delvois put his famous "Cloaca" – a car that will copy the work of the digestive tract. Really: at the entrance is given a real food, we get shit at the exit. They say, there was such a vony that the museum was forced to evacuate all visitors.

As you can see, you can tell about Antwerp. If you stop in the center, you will see the same as the rest of the tourists: a wonderful cathedral, medieval houses and a bunch of tourist eaters. Great, but adventures here and does not smell. If you go to feel all the vibrations of this international city, then arrange a big walk. From southeast to north. From zada-like houses, through the Jewish quarter, bypassing Chinatown and African stores to Portuguese and Moroccan part of Antwerp.

Brussels is the capital of Europe, but it is unknown when he was built. Here you will come across a strange mixture of skyscrapers and small curved streets, where everything is lost. Really all, including Belgians who are not from Brussels.

In any case, Brussels are actually what you expect from the real city: high buildings, lively traffic, artights of art, eccentric old women, bars on every corner, expensive cocktails and a bunch of adventures, if you are ready for them. Just remember that in Brussels there is not only the most beautiful area of ​​Europe, an atomium and a pissing boy, but also a lot of parks, private museums, fashion houses and, of course, the Royal Palace (and, to Heap – and Pissing Girl). Brussels – City of Art Nouveau, Motherland comics and the capital of surrealism. The main thing – stay away from "Squares of Brussels Waffel" And you will discover one of the biggest cities in Europe.

– If you have time, select a bike tour. I got great pleasure, examining the city in this way outside the "Pentagon" – the old town has the shape of a pentagon and the locals name is it that way.

– Ordinary supermarkets much cheaper tourist shops. And they with the same success sell authentic chocolate, Trappist beer and Belgian souvenirs.

– Do not try to steal beer glasses. Yes, they are interesting here and very diverse. If you are a collective maniac, then travel to Flea Market. There you can buy glasses just 50 cents per piece.
– Do not expect the Brussels to walk the days with European flags and sow the anthem of the United Europe. They do not care about eurocrats – those who came here to work on the Joint Government. These guys have a separate community, home, bars and restaurants. They, originally, do not like the city. But, gradually, they fall in love with Brussels and then do not want to leave him.

– Brussels – Language Mixing City. Yes, most speak French here, but the Netherlands is also the state language here (it can be easily understood on the bilingual names of the streets). And do not be surprised that Brussels use English, Arabic, Spanish, Russian and Swahili in everyday communication. Or some more "tricky" language. Just 46% of local people have foreign roots.

– Of course you need to mention the atomium – iron molecule, increased by 165 billion times. Built to the World Exhibition of 1958 and symbolizing the peaceful use of atomic energy. I am only one thing is unclear: how sides the iron belongs to atomic energy? I did not find an answer in Brussels. Recently renovated atomium again accepts visitors: there are many institutions within spheres. And at the very top – restaurant. Kitchen there, admit, very mediocre and maintenance does not correspond to the height of the restaurant. However, if you need a check mark "I was on a 102nd atomium meter" – you here. Just boot a table in advance – a lot of people however. Much more interesting near the park of mini Europe. There are even brochures translated into Russian. With a bunch of errors and typos, but, at the same time, quite informative. If you are traveling with children – do not miss this original place.

– In Brussels 94 museum. Perhaps two weeks do not have enough to see everything. I strongly recommend purchasing a Brussels card (for a day, two or three) – with it, you will save a bunch of money using it for a passage of museums and public transport. For a day, such a card costs 24 euros.

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